Fruits make such an inevitable part of our lives, especially because of their innumerable benefits and of course different flavours. These seasonal delights can be relished in numerous ways, with each region in the country having their own exclusive recipes. One such fruit is banana that can be used in more ways than just one. From its leaves to the stem, flower to its peels, each and every part has a different story to tell. Eating a banana itself has so many health benefits to offer; it acts as a natural antacid and an excellent source of potassium, which is essential for maintaining blood pressure
According to the book Healing Foods by DK Publishing, bananas are an extremely versatile and healthy fruit. In some Asian cuisines, the flower (or inflorescence) is eaten both raw and cooked. Like an artichoke, the outer bracts of the leaves and flowers are removed to reveal a pale, edible heart.
Here are some more interesting and mind boggling ways to use banana in your day-to-day life. We bet you would love them!
1. Banana Leaf Used for Preparing Fish
Banana leaves are extensively used in cooking, such as the Parsi favourite Patra ni Macchi or Bengali dish Macher Paturi, best eaten in monsoons. In Bengali, ‘paturi‘ literally means wrapped in banana leaves and ‘macher‘ means fish. This exotic dish is simple to prepare and one of the most loved in the region. It is a spicy dish where the fish is smothered in mustard paste, turmeric, salt, green chillies, mustard oil and other spices and then wrapped in banana leaf to steam cook it. The fish can vary from Rohu or Rui, Bhetki and even Pompret depending on the season.
2. Banana Leaf Used as a Plate
Banana leaves hold significance in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradeshand Kerala, majorly because they serve and eat food on banana leaf plates. If you are wondering why are banana leaves used, it is due to the belief that eating food on a banana leaf will aid digestion as well as add to the flavour of the food. A banana leaf is one of the most eco-friendly, disposable food serving systems, which can hold large volumes of food due to its size. It is hygienic than any other utensil; just a sprinkle of water and it is clean.
3. Bananas Used to Make Desserts
Bananas are not just healthy, but they are super tasty and you would agree that it gets even better when you add them to a dessert. If you haven’t gorged on some amazing banana desserts, you have missed out on a lot. Banana makes an exceptional ingredient for any dessert like Banana Halwa, Banana Cake, Banoffee Pie, Banana Walnut Muffins and Banana Pancakes. Well then, what are you indulging on next?
4. Raw Bananas Used to Make Sabzi
If you haven’t tasted any raw banana dishes, here’s your chance to do so. Raw bananas are used to make different kinds of sabzis with exquisite taste and flavour. Slight sweet taste of the raw bananas and addition of various spices make the sabzis delectable. You can try some recipes with raw bananas which include Kerala Style Avial, Kelan Kerala Curry, Kele ki Sabzi and Vazakai Poriyal among others.
5. Banana as Snacks
What’s better than those crunchy, yellow, banana chips cooked in coconut oil from the southern region? Pazhampori or banana fritters make an exceptional, traditional Malayali snack where the bananas are coated in flour-based batter and deep fried. These snacks are popular in northern regions too and make a great option for evening snacks.
6. Kola Khar – An Antacid Made from the Ashes of Banana Tree
Kola Khar is a traditional ingredient and a popular food additive in Assam and has been used since time immemorial. It acts as an antacid and is prepared by filtering water through the ashes of a banana tree. This highly alkaline preparation is believed to be good for boosting digestion, and as such is the first course of a traditional Assamese meal.
7. Banana Flower Used to Prepare Dishes
You may agree, banana flowers are just too beautiful to be eaten, but it is believed that these edible flowers are healthy. The petals of the flowers, which haven’t blossomed, are known as ‘bracts’ are used abundantly in kitchens for cooking dishes including soups, stir fries, sabzis, stews and salads. The edible bracts are starchy and bitter in taste, but once soaked in lemon water/juice, the taste can change. Banana flower dishes are generally used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines. You can prepare Mocha Chingri, a Bengali dish which has banana flower in it.
8. Banana Stem Juice
It is believed that banana stem juice is an excellent source for maintaining a healthy body, especially for reducing kidney stones and weight loss. Banana stem is a rich source of fiber, which helps in curing constipation and maintain a healthy digestive system. Banana stem juice may be bitter, but blending it with other ingredients can make it better.
9. Banana Stem or Shoots
Banana stem sabzi is abundantly made in southern regions. Dishes like Banana Stem Kootu, Karimeen Pollichathu and Vazhai Thandu Poriyal among others are savoured in the south on a day-to-day basis.
10. Banana Peels- Health Friendly
Did you know banana peels are edible too? They can be eaten raw or cooked and is a super healthy food. You can easily blend the peels into smoothies, make banana tea, chutney or eat it raw, if you can! They are rich sources of fiber and have innumerable antioxidants that will help keep your immune system strong.
That’s how versatile a banana and its parts are. This humble fruit has a lot to offer, only if you are open to exploring and experimenting more with it. Do let us know which is your favourite part of banana and how do you like to cook it.